Investments in Unconsolidated Entities
|12 Months Ended|
Dec. 31, 2013
|Equity Method Investments and Joint Ventures [Abstract]|
|INVESTMENTS IN UNCONSOLIDATED ENTITIES||
NOTE 4 - INVESTMENTS IN UNCONSOLIDATED ENTITIES
In the past, we have entered into land development joint ventures as a means of accessing larger parcels of land and lot positions, expanding our market opportunities, managing our risk profile and leveraging our capital base. In some circumstances, purchasing land through a joint venture can be beneficial, although we do not view joint ventures as critical to the success of our homebuilding operations and have not entered into any new land joint ventures since 2008. Based on the structure of these joint ventures, they may or may not be consolidated into our results. Our joint venture partners generally are other homebuilders, land sellers or other real estate investors. We generally do not have a controlling interest in these ventures, which means our joint venture partners could cause the venture to take actions we disagree with, or fail to take actions we believe should be undertaken, including the sale of the underlying property to repay debt or recoup all or part of the partners' investments. As of December 31, 2013, we had two active equity-method land ventures.
We also participate in two mortgage and one title business joint ventures. The mortgage joint ventures are engaged in mortgage activities and they provide services to both our clients and other homebuyers. Although some of these ventures originate mortgage loans, we have limited recourse related to any mortgages originated by these ventures. Our investments in mortgage and title joint ventures as of December 31, 2013 and 2012 were $2.9 million and $2.0 million, respectively.
For land development joint ventures, we, and in some cases our joint venture partners, usually receive an option or other similar arrangement to purchase portions of the land held by the joint venture. Option prices are generally negotiated prices that approximate market value when we enter into the option contract. For these ventures, our share of the joint venture profit relating to lots we purchase from the joint ventures is deferred until homes are delivered by us and title passes to a homebuyer. Therefore, we allocate the portion of such joint venture profit to the land acquired by us as a reduction in the basis of the property.
In connection with our land development joint ventures, we may also provide certain types of guarantees to associated lenders. These guarantees can be classified into two categories: (i) Repayment Guarantees and (ii) Completion Guarantees, described in more detail below. Additionally, we have classified a guarantee related to our minority ownership in the South Edge joint venture separately, as there is pending litigation with the venture's lender group regarding that guarantee.
Repayment Guarantees. We and/or our land development joint venture partners occasionally provide limited repayment guarantees on a pro rata basis on the debt of land development joint ventures. If such a guarantee were ever to be called or triggered, the maximum exposure to Meritage would generally be only our pro-rata share of the amount of debt outstanding that was in excess of the fair value of the underlying land securing the debt. Our share of these limited pro rata repayment guarantees as of December 31, 2013 and 2012 is presented in the table above (without considering any potential recoveries from the joint venture's land assets).
Completion Guarantees. If there is development work to be completed, we and our joint venture partners may be obligated to the project lender(s) to complete construction of the land development improvements if the joint venture does not perform the required development. Provided we and the other joint venture partners are in compliance with these completion obligations, the project lenders are generally obligated to fund these improvements through any financing commitments available under the applicable joint venture development and construction loans. In addition, we and our joint venture partners have from time to time provided unsecured indemnities to joint venture project lenders. These indemnities generally obligate us to reimburse the project lenders only for claims and losses related to matters for which such lenders are held responsible and our exposure under these indemnities is limited to specific matters such as environmental claims. A part of our project acquisition due diligence process is to determine potential environmental risks and generally we or the joint venture entity obtain an independent environmental review. Per the guidance of ASC 460-10, Guarantees, the table above does not reflect any balance related to the completion guarantees as we believe these guarantees are either not applicable or not material to our financial results.
Surety Bonds. We and our joint venture partners also indemnify third party surety providers with respect to performance bonds issued on behalf of certain of our joint ventures. If a joint venture does not perform its obligations, the surety bond could be called. If these surety bonds are called and the joint venture fails to reimburse the surety, we and our joint venture partners would be obligated to make such payments. These surety indemnity arrangements are generally joint and several obligations with our joint venture partners. Although a majority of the required work may have been performed, these bonds are typically not released until all development specifications under the bond have been met. None of these bonds have been called to date and we believe it is unlikely that any of these bonds will be called or if called, that any such amounts would be material to us. See the table below for detail of our surety bonds.
The joint venture obligations, guarantees and indemnities discussed above are generally provided by us or one or more of our subsidiaries. In joint ventures involving other homebuilders or developers, support for these obligations is generally provided by the parent companies of the joint venture partners. In connection with our periodic real estate impairment reviews, we may accrue for any such commitments where we believe our obligation to pay is probable and can be reasonably estimated. In such situations, our accrual represents the portion of the total joint venture obligation related to our relative ownership percentage. Except as noted above and in Note 13 to these unaudited consolidated financial statements, as of December 31, 2013 and December 31, 2012, we did not have any such reserves.
See Note 13 regarding outstanding litigation related to a joint venture project known as “South Edge” or "Inspirada".
Summarized condensed financial information related to unconsolidated joint ventures that are accounted for using the equity method was as follows (in thousands):
Our investments in unconsolidated entities include $0.6 million at December 31, 2013 and $0.8 million at December 31, 2012, related to the difference between the amounts at which our investments are carried and the amount of our portion of the venture's equity. These amounts are amortized as the assets of the respective joint ventures are sold.
The joint venture assets and liabilities noted in the table above primarily represent the active land ventures, two mortgage and one title business ventures and various inactive ventures. Our total investment in all of these joint ventures is $11.6 million. As of December 31, 2013, we believe these ventures are in compliance with their respective debt agreements, if applicable, and the joint venture debt reflected above is non recourse to us.
The entire disclosure for equity investment, or group of investments, for which combined disclosure is appropriate.
No definition available.